Mediation for contact and residence disputes on divorce

19th January 2015 by

Most family lawyers would agree that trying to sort out arrangements for children after a divorce can be very difficult for parents, and disputes occur frequently. However, racing off to the family law courts is not always the best option and divorcing couples are now, since April 2011, obliged to undergo a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) if they apply to the courts in England and Wales for a child or finance-related court order.

In many cases, court proceedings to determine residence (living with the child) and contact (visiting and holidays etc.) orders can become acrimonious and adversarial, and this is usually extremely stressful, costly and time consuming. Although children are not usually present during the court hearings, the emotional fallout from court appearances may well cause them emotional distress as they see their parents fighting over them.

If there is the risk of harm coming to the children, or one parent fears that the other may abduct the children, the police and courts should be involved at the earliest opportunity. Parents who fear for the safety of themselves or their children should speak with their family lawyer as soon as possible so that the right prevention strategies can be put in place.

Mediation may take the sting out of children disputes

Where couples are finding it difficult to agree children arrangements, mediation services are available to all divorcing and unmarried parents who wish to negotiate an agreement without going to court. Although family lawyers are not usually present at the meetings, they can help parents make contact with a suitable third party mediator who is trained to handle disputes particular to their circumstances and situation.

Divorce solicitors will also be able to advise the parent, prior to the meetings, of their rights in family law, but the mediator will be impartial and will seek to ensure that all parties, including the children, will have their best interests maintained by any agreed outcomes.

Initially, the parents will meet with the mediator separately to discuss their individual point of view and wished-for outcomes, and then the parties will meet together in a neutral location to negotiate an agreement. If all parties agree, children can also be included in the sessions and although solicitors do not normally attend mediation meetings, it can be useful for a legal representative to be present when an agreement is being drafted so that their client’s best interests can be maintained.

Healys’ family lawyers in London and Brighton for divorce mediation

Our team of divorce and family law solicitors offers expert advice and representation for parents in respect of children arrangements on divorce or separation.

With offices in London and Brighton we can help clients all over the South of England and can help you if you require the services of an independent mediator or if you feel your children are in danger.

As members of Resolution we strive to conduct divorce negotiations on an amicable, respectful and conciliatory basis, but, if the situation calls for it, we believe in using robust litigation techniques to ensure our clients’ best interests, safety and welfare are maintained.

For more information on the service we provide, please contact Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or email catherine.taylor@healys.com for Brighton. For London please contact Jane Sanders on 020 7822 4107 or email jane.sanders@healys.com.